Pakistan sentences anti-India militant leader to 31 years

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani court on Friday sentenced a militant leader linked to the Mumbai terrorist attacks to 31 years in prison on charges of terror financing, his lawyer said.

The sentence is the latest for Hafiz Saeed, who was arrested in 2019. He was sentenced the following year to 15 years in a separate case, also on charges of terror financing.

Saeed, designated a terrorist by the U.S. Justice Department and with a $10 million bounty on his head, has never been charged in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

He has been serving the 15-year term at home under a government order. His lawyer, Naseeruddin Nayyar, said Saeed can appeal the latest sentence,

Saeed is the founder of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which was blamed for the Mumbai attacks. The group was active for years in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is split between Pakistan and India but claimed by both.

Following his arrest, the Pakistani government seized Saeed’s extensive network of mosques, schools, seminaries and charities and other assets in the country. Under Pakistani law and unless a sentence is thrown out or reduced on appeal, Saeed will have to serve them consecutively.

Relations between Pakistan and India were strained after the attack on India’s financial hub in 2008. The rival South Asian powers have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.

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Associated Press writer Babar Dogar in Lahore, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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